, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 527–552 | Cite as

Subsistence Digging in Iran’s Archeology and the Cultural Heritage

  • Samaneh Farokhi Eisvand
  • Nemat Hariri
  • Ardeshir Javanmard Zadeh


Subsistence digging is an action taken by people living a region to find antiquities in order to sell them and use resulting proceeds as a means of living. Subsistence digging is the main source of recent excavated cultural materials supplied to the market. The term is tied to the economy and plays an important socioeconomic role in many countries particularly in developing countries throughout the world by solving the starvation problem. Despite of the frequency of digging activities, they have not been investigated and even are not known in Iran so far. To find out the possible reasons behind digging activities and the neglect of the relevant authorities and agencies, this study explores subsistence digging and distinguishes it from looting, a term that is frequently referred to as the looting of cultural heritage in Iran.

Key Words

Subsistence digging Cultural heritage looting Treasure hunting Trafficking digging 


Le creusage destiné à assurer la subsistance est une méthode utilisée par la population d’une région pour trouver des antiquités à vendre afin de subsister. Ce type de creusage est la principale source de matériaux culturels récemment excavés fournis au marché. Cette appellation est associée à l’économie et cette activité joue un rôle socioéconomique important dans plusieurs pays en développement dans le monde en réglant le problème de la famine. Malgré la fréquence des activités, elles n’ont pas fait l’objet d’étude et demeurent inconnues en Iran à ce jour. Pour faire la lumière sur les motifs possibles des activités de creusage et la négligence des autorités et organismes pertinents, la présente étude explore le creusage destiné à assurer la subsistance et le distingue du pillage, un terme souvent utilisé pour traiter du pillage du patrimoine culturel en Iran.


La excavación de subsistencia es una acción realizada por personas que viven en una región para buscar antigüedades con el propósito de venderlas y utilizar los ingresos resultantes como un medio de vidaa. La excavación de subsistencia es la principal fuente de materiales culturales excavados recientemente que se suministran al mercado. El término está ligado a la economía y desempeña un importante papel socioeconómico en muchos países, particularmente en los países en desarrollo de todo el mundo resolviendo el problema la hambruna. A pesar de la frecuencia de las actividades de excavación, hasta ahora, en Irán, no han sido investigadas y no se las conoce. Para descubrir las posibles razones detrás de las actividades de excavación y el descuido de las autoridades y agencias pertinentes, este estudio explora la excavación de subsistencia y la distingue del saqueo, un término que, en Irán, con frecuencia se conoce como el saqueo del patrimonio cultural.


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© World Archaeological Congress 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samaneh Farokhi Eisvand
    • 1
  • Nemat Hariri
    • 2
  • Ardeshir Javanmard Zadeh
    • 3
  1. 1.TehranIran
  2. 2.University of Mohaghegh ArdabiliArdabilIran
  3. 3.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of Mohaghegh ArdabiliArdabilIran

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